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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 10:15 GMT
How Disney's TV gang has grown up
By Mark Savage
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Britney Spears
Britney Spears' post-Mouseketeers rise was the most rapid
When Disney's All New Mickey Mouse Club unveiled its new cast in 1993, few would have predicted the cultural impact the young recruits of the US children's television show would have.

Whether through talent, rivalry or some sort of showbusiness alchemy, the Mouseketeers produced three of today's biggest pop stars - Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake.

Between them, they have sold more than 100 million albums, won 10 Grammy Awards and made a large mark on pop music.

Timberlake was the first to forge a singing career after the show ended in 1994, forming boy band *NSync with fellow Mouseketeer JC Chasez the following year.

The group's manager, Lou Pearlman, also put together a girl band, Innosense, featuring Spears.

WHAT BECAME OF THE MOUSEKETEERS?
Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson
Ryan Gosling (pictured), Oscar nominated actor
Annette Funicello, actress
Darlene Gillespie, jailed for fraud
Sherry Alberoni, Hanna Barbera voice artist
Lisa Whelchel, Christian author
Keri Russell, TV actress
But Aguilera faced a tougher struggle in her quest for musical success, pedalling home-recorded demo tapes to record companies for four years before landing a contract with RCA Records.

By this stage Spears had gone solo and, in 1998, released her debut single ...Baby One More Time.

Helped by a raunchy video, which saw the 17-year-old dressed as a schoolgirl, the single sold more than nine million copies worldwide.

Legal troubles

Aguilera followed at a respectable distance, sending Genie In A Bottle to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in the summer of 1999.

But she was unhappy at being marketed as a bubblegum pop princess.

"The image started really upsetting me," she told the New York Daily News in 2002. "I wanted more attention on my vocals and to be seen as a daring artist like Madonna."

Justin Timberlake at the Grammys
Justin Timberlake has won four Grammys

She took her manager Steve Kurtz to court in 2000, claiming he had exercised "improper, undue and inappropriate influence" over her personal and professional activities.

Timberlake had pulled off a similar coup a year earlier, splitting from svengali Lou Pearlman after a lengthy court battle.

While Aguilera and Timberlake fought for control of their careers, Spears was going from strength to strength.

Her second album, Ooops I Did It Again, won plaudits from rock bibles Rolling Stone and the NME and went to number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

As she kept up the pace on the pop treadmill, Timberlake - now her boyfriend - was making his next move.

Maturing sounds

Securing the services of cutting-edge hip-hop producers the Neptunes, he shocked *NSync fans with the R&B-flavoured single Girlfriend.

Aguilera was also branching out, enlisting former 4 Non Blondes singer Linda Perry to help her write Beautiful, the key track on her confessional Stripped album.

Spears also saw the need to take musical risks, but had to be careful not to alienate her teen audience.

Christina Aguilera
Aguilera has changed her image several times
As a result, her self-titled third album was somewhat schizophrenic, with I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman describing her marketing department's dilemma.

Nonetheless, it achieved respectable sales and kept Spears at the head of the pop pack.

In 2003, the star teamed up with Aguilera and Madonna for a performance at the MTV awards.

Both of the younger stars engaged in a kiss with the pop icon, but it was Spears' embrace that dominated headlines, showing Aguilera that she still laboured in her colleague's shadow.

Meanwhile, Timberlake had split with both *NSync and Spears to launch his solo career.

His friendship with the Neptunes paid off when he was offered a handful of demos that had been rejected by Michael Jackson.

The songs formed the basis of his debut album, Justified, with single Cry Me A River gaining the most attention.

Upper hand

Many assumed it was about his relationship with Spears, and the implication in the lyrics that she had cheated on him fuelled gossip columns for months.

But the end of Spears' relationship with Timberlake seemed to coincide with the start of her decline.

Britney Spears
Spears has sold more than 50 million albums
She tarnished her image as a teenage role model by admitting she had lost her virginity and enjoyed smoking.

And in 2004 she married twice, putting musical career on hold while she raises her two young children.

In the meantime, Timberlake and Aguilera have capped their success with new albums and a handful of Grammy awards.

But Spears retains the upper hand. Forbes magazine says she is the 12th richest woman in showbusiness (and the highest earning Mouseketeer) with a net worth of $100m (54.1m).

Her recent stay in rehab and shaved head may show the star has troubles to address, but her fans will be eagerly awaiting her musical return.




SEE ALSO
Bald new look for Britney Spears
17 Feb 07 |  Entertainment
Spears club 'collapse' dismissed
02 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Britney faces child custody fight
09 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Diaz and Timberlake confirm split
12 Jan 07 |  Entertainment
Timberlake helps on Duran album
13 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Host Timberlake in MTV double win
03 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Aguilera's album makes No 1 debut
20 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Singer Christina Aguilera marries
21 Nov 05 |  Entertainment

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